Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bun Warmer

Well, thanks again to all you who tossed more *hits* on that meter. It came up quicker than I thought it would, as a result. I even got assists from Guyk (Charming, Just Charming) and Walrilla. Walrilla just passed HIS 5000 a few days ago - my brother in booboos and hits. Thanks, guys!

The irrepressible Miss LL of Chromed Curses was runner-up at #4999. She could have clicked again for the big prize. But, as an honorable woman of the highest standards, she refrained. To reward such exemplary behavior, and because I just adore her Question Fridays, she gets a runner-up prize: Ask me a question, LL, any question, and I'll answer it for you.

#5000, ab5sy of Amazing Facts, came over by way of Guyk. Now, Guyk had told him there was a prize for #5000 - a fur-lined crapper. Or maybe just the contents. Of course it was ALL contents cause it was just another Guyk shaggy poooodle story. I mean, this is South FLORIDA. Fur linings are in short supply. Even should we find a fur, no sensible furry thing wears it thick enough to do any good, not down here!

But see, ab5sy is out in Oklahoma City. Where it does get cold. And having suffered through not one not two but three record-breaking cold and snow winters in Chicagoland in the late 1970's, I have feelings about cold that aren't actually publishable - even here in the 'sphere. I feel his pain.

So since I can't supply any fur lined crappers, I offered contents: a story of his choice.

He chose to request a photo of a bun warmer. This is very sensible! And a good workable substitute for that fur-lined crapper.

I hope Vermont Country Store doesn't mind that I swiped their photo, since I couldn't come up with one of my own. Say! I'll throw in some advertising, gratis. If you'd like to actually OWN one of these fine bun warmers, go clicky here and you can buy one.

I know it probably can't heat up the whole crapper. But it sure makes sense to me to want those buns nice and warm while you're in there. By the time you're ready to leave the *outbox,* your buns will ready! Just in time for you to nuke your hot dog, put together your lunch and feed it into the *inbox.* See? It's all part of the circle of life, just like they say.

Enjoy, ab5sy! And - thank you. Y'all come back now, hear?

Monday, October 30, 2006


Well, #5000! I have no idea who you are, but thank you so much for stopping by. I have no money to reward you with, me. All I can do is offer you a story of your choice. Let me know what you'd like to hear about.

> Visit Detail
Visit 5,000
Domain Name swbell.net ? (Network)
IP Address 70.240.49.# (SBC Internet Services)
ISP SBC Internet Services
Location Continent: North America
Country: United States (Facts)
State: Oklahoma
City: Oklahoma City
Lat/Long: 35.4715, -97.519 (Map)
Language English (United States)en-us
Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Internet Explorer 6.0Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; YPC 3.2.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; yplus 5.1.04b)
Javascript version 1.3
Monitor Resolution: 1024 x 768
Color Depth: 32 bits
Time of Visit Oct 30 2006 9:02:15 pm
Last Page View Oct 30 2006 9:04:20 pm
Visit Length 2 minutes 5 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL http://www.blogger.com/profile/8130875
Visit Entry Page http://ksquest.blogspot.com/
Visit Exit Page http://ksquest.blogspot.com/
Out Click Site Meterhttp://www.sitemeter....asp?site=s23ksquest
Time Zone UTC-6:00
Visitor's Time Oct 30 2006 8:02:15 pm
Visit Number 5,000


This is FUN!

Another Twist

This case involved a days-long search for the missing girl, a false confession that was so thoroughly believed the confessor was arrested and jailed for some time, and a number of other twists and turns.

Now we can add a little rough justice to the list.
Oct 29, 7:55 PM EST

Inmate Charged With Tattooing Killer

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) -- An inmate accused of forcibly tattooing a slain 10-year-old girl's name onto her killer's forehead in an Indiana prison was the victim's cousin, a family friend said.

Jared Harris, 22, is a cousin of Katlyn "Katie" Collman, family friend and spokesman Terry Gray confirmed to The Republic newspaper. He said he did not believe they knew each other well.

Harris, 22, who is serving time on a burglary conviction at Wabash Valley state prison in Carlisle, has been charged with battery and is accused of tattooing "KATIE'S REVENGE" across Anthony Ray Stockelman's forehead.

Harris told prison officials the attack was in revenge, according to an affidavit.

Stockelman is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to abducting, molesting and killing the fourth-grader, who lived about 70 miles south of Indianapolis. She was missing for five days before her body was found Jan. 30, 2005, in a creek about 15 miles from her home.

The affidavit said that prison officials transferred Harris to the same prison wing as Stockelman on Sept. 19, three days before the attack, and that Harris subsequently threatened Stockelman's life several times.

Harris slipped into the open cell Stockelman shared with another prisoner on Sept. 22 and, when Stockelman returned, Harris closed the locking cell door, according to the affidavit.

Stockelman told investigators that Harris put his right hand around his throat and told him, "I'm either gonna stick you and leave you bleeding or I'm gonna tattoo you." After applying the tattoo using a makeshift tattoo gun, Harris discarded the device in a trash can, he told investigators.
©2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.
Find this article at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/G/GIRL_SLAIN_TATTOO?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sitemeter Milestones


In another day or two, it'll turn over to 5000.

When I first made this blog - actually, when Walter made it, me being a terrible lameass phobe and all - I thought I'd put the Sitemeter thing in. However, it only showed all zeros all the time.

I wasn't surprised at first, but then, how could it continue to be zero when I had actual Comments? Proof positive that SOMEONE had stopped by! So I got all giggly with it and figured that silly Sitemeter just didn't know how to count.

I didn't mind a bit, since I don't want to run ads or anything.

Months went by. Finally my blogmama suggested it might actually work better if I turned it ON.


I gave this some thought. I think slow.

After a couple months, I went in there to see if I could figure this thing out. And indeed - it was simply not turned on.

I hit the switch.

A year or so had come and gone since I started the blog.

I looked at that Sitemeter stuff intermittently. What I liked the best was how it showed things like where people are from, and why they Googled you up. Stuff like that was really fun. I discovered the polyphemus moth eggs hatching were of great interest all over the world, especially in springtime. And that for some reason, I get a surprising amount of traffic from places like Malaysia. They have totally fab orchids and bugs in these locations, so I'm really happy with that.

Now, I'm about to hit one of those Sitemeter milestones.

And while traffic numbers were never of much interest to me - it's just not a big motivation behind this blog - still, I'm surprised at how gratified I am.

I really am. It means there are people who genuinely enjoy coming here and reading what I post. What I write, and the pix I take. And that's a true compliment, and quite humbling. Somehow I never expected that to happen. Yet it did.

So thank you all. Thank you very much. Not just whoever #5000 turns out to be - each and every one of you who stopped by here and put one of those *Visitor* numbers in.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Scott Adams Got His Groove Back

I like talking.

No. I LOVE to talk.

When I was younger, I was usually very quiet. People couldn't hear me when I spoke. I was pathologically shy.

I wanted to speak louder so people could hear me, at least. I did this by learning how to proJECT that voice. Yup. Now I can throw that sucker two blocks away.

As a young adult, married, I rarely spoke at all. Very serious first-husband issues. HE did the talking.

Several years after the divorce, recovering from the Silence, I started to talk again. To tell my actual own opinions and stuff. I went to college, and since I like to ask questions in class, that helped.

My work, later, involved many hours each day on the telephone. Researching, interviewing, negotiating, what have you. I LOVE to talk on the phone. I'm extremely good at it, and I know it. And I have a very good *telephone voice.* It's quite deep for a woman, and somehow, it's often easier for people to take that over the phone than in person. Go figger.

Since I started to lose my hearing, first from allergies and then from this disseminated HSV (cold sore) germ that got into my auditory nerve, I can't hear myself right any more.

So, like a lot of the hearing-impaired, I often talk too loud now. I'm working hard on stopping that; I really don't like it a bit, don't want to do it.

The thing is, though...

I also tend to lose my voice.

From the extreme allergies came a condition that goes under some different names. On my printout of my medical history and such that I carry around, I just call it *vocal cord dysfunction,* per the first diagnosing doc. *Spasmodic Dysphonia* is one of its more formal names.

My vocal cords twitch open and shut when they aren't supposed to. An allergist, in 1993, saw it with a scope. She was spraying different allergenic stuff around, cleaning chemicals and things, to see if I was a *twitcher* in response to an allergen.


I'm very lucky, because with me it's intermittent. When the allergies aren't bad, my voice may be fine. In general, all things considered, I can live with it. It's not great, but hey. I usually have worse things going on.

When it isn't fine, I know a secret formula that restores its function for around 4 hours at a time. It was passed to me by a friend in Shreveport, who swore he got it from an old black lady bartender down in New Orleans. And it works so very well, I passed the formula to a professional singer in Shreveport, and an actor in San Francisco, each of whom burst into tears when they tried it out and realized they could get themselves talking and singing again.

heh! Proud of that one, I am.

So...on the very worst days, I squeak like someone with laryngitis. On others, I sort of crunch, or lose words. Or just go all whiskey-voice. Often it bounces around between all those types in one sentence, so people look at me strange. The lizards, for some reason, love it.

I don't want to make little the impact it has on one's life. To lose your ability to speak even in part messes up your whole sense of identity, of self, of who you are and how you relate to everyone around you. You can see in the faces of others that they don't respond to you anything at all like they used to do. You are diminished.

Scott Adams, the author of the wonderful comic strip Dilbert, has exactly the same thing. From exactly the same instigator: allergies.

Unlike me, he's been unable to talk for 18 months.

Well, folks - he just got his voice back.

He literally retrained his brain to make the neural connection work again.

I am so happy for that guy, I just cannot stand it.

I learned this through, of all things, the Friday Ark over at the Modulator. Someone put my moth pix in the Invertebrates, how very nice! I clicked around.

A blogger who likes science had a beautiful cat pic entered. I checked out that blog. The neuroscience behind Scott Adams getting his voice back was discussed, and the Dilbert blog linked.

What a fabulous turn of events.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Born Again Virgin

I just found out I've been deflowered not once, but twice in a row, by LL.

Livey told me she blogrolled me. I'm honored.

One fine day I really will learn how to reciprocate, with all you who have honored me. Believe me, I do notice and appreciate it. Baby steps, here.

That was the first LL deflowering.

More sexperiments for LL? nyuk nyuk nyuk!

She DID say she liked it. Maybe that's why she did it again.

See, she, unlike me, is not only not a terrible scaredy-cat technophobe, she's a real for real computer whiz. And on top of THAT, a BLOG whiz.

So...she instantly, skillfully, found my secret button.

My *Make a Donation* button.

Yup. She knew exactly where to go and what to do and how to do it.

I hope to learn, at some point, to make a *wish list* one instead. While I'm certainly cash-poor, I'm also equity-rich, so *donations* don't seem appropriate to me. Besides, I so much prefer to think I'm earning my tips. That's truly different.

Ah! Two lists. One for *fun stuff* like yellow rainlily seeds and such. The other one, for things I need and can't readily get: like my band-aid supply. My Medicare HMO doesn't cover the bandaging supplies. The Silvadene they pay for. The band-aids and gauze rolls and tape to hold it on? No. Jerks.

That's the care package the inimitable Livey has been putting together for me. It was SUPPOSED to be only from *orphaned* supplies, stuff abandoned by the recipient and needing a new home. She actually looked for my button and couldn't find it! She's got a lot of medical knowledge too. But maybe she got a bit misdirected by that hot dog bun thing.

So the *Donation* button has been hanging around, completely Unmentioned but hidden in plain view, since the beginning. Kind of the baby pygmy elephant in the room. Never, ever been hit. And though my sitemeter hasn't been running that long, the blog itself has been here since April 2005. So it held out against all comers for a year and a half.

LL hit it.

It is no longer a Virgin Button.

She seems inordinately proud of herself.

Kind of like this: http://desertcat.blogspot.com/2006/10/she-being-brand-new.html

Well, DUUU-uuuh...

After feeling noticeably better late last night, and sleeping a good 12 hours again, I was a little surprised when I woke up. Temp: 98.2, still high. Rats.

Yet I didn't feel that fevery, not as bad as it's been.

What surprised me was the pain in the left ankle, and foot too. The same place this particular bout got started.

Then I realized...I forgot to change my pain patch yesterday.


Yup. Forget the meds. That'll do it.

Fixed it, poste haste.

`Wedgie' Gets Principal 6-Day Suspension

Oct 25, 3:14 PM EDT

`Wedgie' Gets Principal 6-Day Suspension

LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) -- A high school principal received a six-day suspension and a letter of reprimand for giving one of his students a wedgie.

Eric Messerli pulled a Park High School senior's soccer jersey over his head and yanked upward on the waistband of the boy's underwear at a soccer game Oct. 5. Other school officials said he was joking around with the student and did it playfully.

He was suspended for two days without pay and four days with pay before the school board decided Monday to let him return. He tearfully told the board: "I've made mistakes in my life, but none have had the impact that this one has had."

Messerli, who was back on the job Tuesday, will be required to talk with students and staff members about the incident to restore respect and authority.

He said his first reaction was to resign, but he decided to "tackle this mess" head on.

"I want to live in a world where we don't have to hide when we screw up," he said.
©2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Purchase this AP story for reprint. Learn more about our Privacy Policy. Find this article at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/P/PRINCIPAL_WEDGIE?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I've been deflowered by LL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, Maybe a Little...


It won't be over for a long time yet.

God bless those little caterpillars for keeping me going.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Giant Silkworm Moths: Smart and Beautiful. Io, Polyphemus, and Luna Moth.

When eyespotted Giant Silkworm moths feel disturbed, they open their forewings to show the eyespots hidden on their underwings. You might be able to see why this can make the moth suddenly look like an owl: the bright yellow eyes, the bird's beak in the middle - even the feather tufts arising from many owls' heads, are all imitated.

The first pic shows a female io above, with folded wings; at rest she is nicely camouflaged. Below her a yellow male shows his eyespots. The next is a female io showing her eyespots.

Here's a polyphemus moth. They are huge; I hatched one with a wingspan of over 7".

Another storied silkworm: the luna moth. I took this in North Florida.

Photo Credits: Female/male io photo from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automeris_io

Female io photo from http://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=3227041 Photographer: Ronald F. Billings, Texas Forest Service

Polyphemus photo from http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/polyphemus_moth.htm Photographer: Dan Mackinnon

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Blessed by the Goddess of Silkworm Moths

Sometimes I just cannot believe my good fortune.

Once again, I've been visited by one of the most fabled moths of all time. The beautiful caterpillars I've been raising are the larvae of moths I've wanted to see all my life, since very early childhood: they are called Io moths.

Eye-oh. Oh, you'll see why.

Io belongs to the giant silkworm moth family (Saturniidae), described as an *important and widely distributed family of moths including some of the largest insects known.* Yeah. They're big. BIG. Io is sort of a smaller one; it's only huge. These will be around 3" - 4" across.

My first real-life contact with a silkworm moth was a Luna moth when I was around 10 years old. I still have that moth. (Yes, I murdered and mounted it. Come on. I was just a kid! I only did it a couple times.) Many years later I had another encounter with a luna moth in the swamps near Gainesville, Florida.

A few years after buying this house, I had an extraordinary visit from an enormous female Polyphemus, around 7" in wingspan; I've put my photos on CD and will post about it one day. Then, last year at the Fossil Farm, we caught another one. She laid eggs, which were taken home and raised by our fearless camp mama, Eureka. Writing about that was one of my very first posts. It remains one of my biggest Google hits to this day, often the all-time #1.

Not long after the polyphemus at my house, I had a brief acquaintance with a Black Witch. While it isn't a silkworm moth, the Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata) is *the largest moth, if not the largest insect, north of Mexico.* Just like in the link, I took pix with a ruler by it - but mine was over 8" in wingspan.

And now - finally, finally - Io.

Automeris io.

After all these years. Oh, happiness!

Here are loads of beautiful pix to click. The very first link is my fave - and naturally, it comes from UF, my alma mater. Whose renowned entomology department I've never visited one single time.

Anyway, if you click on this one, and page down past the scientific gobbledygook, it shows both the adult moth and the caterpillars - including the little group of orange babies! Apparently this grouping, and walking about in a long line, is characteristic io behavior. Just as I saw in my own little io nursery, they turn from orange to green and don't group so much as they get older.

The moths themselves are fairly variable in color. The males are smaller and have yellower forewings (the top wing, without the eyes). I also read that there's a South Florida subspecies/variant/color sport/what have you, with redder wings.

And bigger, I bet. oh, I just BET!

Moth Pix
http://hortipm.tamu.edu/pestprofiles/chewing/io/io.html (moth & caterpillar)

And yes, io is also, famously, a stinging caterpillar. Believe me, I kept an eye on that sting. This is NOT the sort of thing hypersensitives should be playing around with. (sigh!) Luckily, it was only the tiniest of prickles.

I bet that was because they like me. It didn't want to hurt me. It was just saying, --Hey, leggo, yer squishing me too hard!

Caterpillar Pix

Racing Stripes Closeup

Caterpillar Action Shot

The Spines that Stung Me

Made It

I did it. I got everything I needed and now I'm home safe.

Wish me Luck

And now, I must gird my loins for a short but dangerous journey. Despite our best efforts, two prescriptions remained unfilled over at Sam's last week. I must have them, and it happens to be one of those times when there's no one much in town to do this for me. And...for another reason, it must be me. In person. I'll explain that one once I'm safe at home again.

While the worst of the gangreney crisis has passed, I'm not out of the woods yet. Too much exertion can ramp it back up in a heartbeat. In fact, it's famous for that. I'll be convalescing slowly for at least a couple weeks as it is. I'm doing that fevery shakey sweaty trembly thing, of course; I don't mind it really, as relieved as I am about the leg.

But I'd rather not be doing this trip just now. I'm certainly not strong enough yet. Must needs.

Prioritize. First: Sam's. Then, if I can still drive safely, I'll pass by Walmart coming home. There I'll load up on my poison of choice, Sprite Zero - I'm completely out of it. If I can still drive safely after that, I'll pass by kmom's condo, and pick up another gallon of my frozen home-squeezed Florida OJ, stashed in her freezer against any incoming hurricanes.

These two stops should be doable, since I'll be going right past them anyway. Can I walk from car to scooter? From car to condo? I'll need to walk around 50-150 feet at Walmart, and 50 feet at kmom's.

As always, I have my two canes. I'll have my cell phone, with certain neighbors' numbers in it should I have to ditch the car and call for a driver. Oh - cash for a cab, too, just in case.

Send me all possible luck, okay?

Monday, October 23, 2006

The little orange babies are on the left. The yellow silk thing on the right? No idea what that is. Eggs? A spider? I kept it around for a week or so, during which it did nothing interesting at all, and then I forgot about it.

Escapees, yahhh! I was shelling lignum vitae seeds, off and on, and one morning this is what I found. Even when they were wandering, they went in a line together.

A few days later they'd made a circle around my spray bottle of rubbing alcohol.

Posted by Picasa And now they're big and green and beautiful, with stripes and spikes.

You Know You're Doing Better When You Want to Feed Your Caterpillars

Such little cuties!

I found them on the orchid tree, a couple weeks back. I was trimming it within an inch of its life, getting it ready to burst into fall bloom. And on the underside of one leaf I saw a bunch of little orange caterpillars, all huddled together.


Perhaps this huddle is a ruse to confuse predators? It certainly doesn't look like a caterpillar when they do that.

Since I'm ever so fond of bugs, I plunked them into a plastic tub and have been putting in fresh orchid tree leaves every morning. Slowly but surely they started turning from orange to green.

One or two have passed on, succumbing to something Awful to Green Caterpillars. Fungus? Parasite? Don't know. Whatever it was, it cut the poor things in half. Maybe it was the other Mystery Stuff Under a Leaf that did it. (oh, mea culpa!)

So far, most are still around. If I'm late with the leaves, one or two may go walkabout. A couple days ago, retrieving one and handling it a bit too roughly, it stung me.

Another first. Never encountered a real-for-real stinging caterpillar before. Or not its sting, anyway. No harm done. It felt like an ant sting, but made no red mark, and only hurt for an hour or so.

What surprised me, as they grew and thrived, was how they still kept together. If they went wandering, they did it in a line, nose-to-tail. It was really quite funny to see.

Now they're getting big and rambunctious, and don't group together quite as carefully as before. But boy are they beautiful.

Little tykes are growing up.

There! Now Isn't That Better?

These pix are from Sunday night.

What a difference, huh?

Much less red. Much less swollen.

Taking pix from this angle makes my legs look like hams.

And I realize my boo-boos and bruises and 48-year-old skin and muscles and veins are no longer in that *Gorgeousness Of Youth* phase most of us get to have.

It's not that part of me doesn't care, at least a little, about the change in my physical appearance. Sure. For a minute, here and there. Especially when people avert their eyes from me in horror. And yes, that happens.

But I really, really mean this: I always knew that appearance mattered NOTHING up against things like character. And that I'd rather have all my parts - even beat-up and funky-looking - than perfectly pretty everywhere but missing a leg.
Posted by Picasa

I'm very good at compartmentalizing. So maybe next week I'll open up this box that says, *The 10/20/06 MRSA That Almost Lost the Leg.* When I'm ready, I will. This was a very, very close call. Closer than I ever want to come again.

Not Scared Any More

It's Monday morning.

And this leg is so much better, I don't even think I need to go out to the doc's office.

The redness is much less. Swelling's way down. The pain is better. Last night my body temp was back down to 97; this morning, 97.7, still good enough. I feel weak and sickish but not too terribly so. This is more like the post-crisis convalescence sickness. It's a different feeling than when the battle is raging unchecked.

I'm craving sleep, and maybe some TV. Not craving pic lines and hospitals. So I'd say that's a very good sign.

See why I love that ID doc so much? She was exactly right.

Unfulfilled Fantasies Involving Honey? Don't Look!

These pix are from Saturday.

Having read here http://banedad.blogspot.com/2006/10/wow_13.html and here http://desertcat.blogspot.com/2006/10/honey-remedy-could-save-limbs.html about using medical grade honey against MRSA, I thought I'd give it a try.

This particular surface MRSA may be the one that set off the cellulitis in the leg. I'd been watching it and taking pix for days and days, because it was a bad one and hurt like hell.

Now: Funny thing about that MRSA pain is, once I hit the sore with Silvadene, the pain stops almost instantly. It's not just from some emollient effect; substances like Vaseline don't do the trick.

But - the honey did.


Being honey, naturally, it likes to drip. Hmmm. A nice bandage will keep it in place.

Slather the rest of the leg in Silvadene.

So why isn't the whole leg covered with white stuff?

Because the local fever in the leg was so high, it melted most of the Silvadene. Made it all clear and shiny.

And last night, Saturday night, the infected area had crept up over the knee. Not good.

Calling this *cellulitis* is such an unfortunate choice of words. It makes it sound like that icky ripply fat deposit we all love to loathe. Cellulite.

These infections, of course, have nothing to do with mundane cosmetic issues. And hell yes, that's mundane. You want to worry about your chicken skin thighs? Replace that with worrying about whether the leg will look better amputated.

Or how good you'll look dead. Don't worry! They'll cover the cellulite good once you're in your coffin.


Lately, when I try to explain to the mercifully unacquainted what exactly we're talking about, I say it's like gangrene.

Then, I see the little light go on in their eyes. Now they get it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Good News, Bad News - But Holding Steady for Now

Well. I made it through the night.

This morning, the *So-Called On-Call* doc finally called back. She apologized for taking so long to return my call. I set aside my feelings over that - for now - and talked to her.

She asked about the progression of the red areas, fever, all the right questions. She said if I thought I could hold out till tomorrow morning, Monday, when I can see Dr C again, it would be a good thing. If not, go straight to the ER.

I wholeheartedly agree with it all. She reminded me that Dr C does pic lines and so forth in her office, if my insurance allows it (I think not, unfortunately). At any rate, going through the doc who understands the idiosyncrasies, and the context, of my health in the big picture means a great deal. If it does become ER time, I'm ready now.

Okay. Here's what went on last night.

Following Walter's excellent advice, I documented the inflamed red areas by taking pix, and also by marking them with a pen - a simple and amazingly helpful technique. That way, you can tell for sure if the inflamed areas are progressing.

The swelling in the foot and ankle was much better, but I think just from the edema. Still, that's always good news.

My temp climbed up to 98.2. Bad news.

I'm keeping the whole leg slathered with Silvadene. Last night, the Silvadene melted. It's a benchmark I follow: it means the temperature in the infected inflamed area is hot enough to melt butter, so to speak. Bad news.

Here's what happened this morning.

The inflamed areas were very slightly larger. Just creeping up a bit, not a big fast flash like they can do. That flash - it's pretty dramatic, you really know when it's happening - anyway, that's what I'm watching for. That's what happened Friday. So far it hasn't happened again. That's good news.

My morning temp was back down to 97.4. Very good news.

The pain was a little lower overall, but locally, it followed the increase in the area of inflammation. On balance, I'll call that slightly good news.

I feel sicker, but not by much. Slightly bad news.

Overall, I'm holding my ground. In this tug-o-war, each side makes little gains and losses throughout the day. That's okay.

My stuff is all more or less packed up now, so if it does that flareup, I'll be ready to go. Having last night in my own bed made all the difference in the world.

Today, I called my neighbors across the street. These are both wonderful people: smart, fun, hard-working, responsible, artistic, and very kind. One has a broken foot. We're *elevator* buddies for the nonce, hanging around with a foot in the air. That's the guy with a degree in landscape architecture, but he never used it professionally. He's a superb artist and photographer and interior designer and oh, just everything.

His partner is also an artistic landscaper, but does high-grade insurance company audits for a living. He's beautifully strong and healthy, and always makes sure to let me know he'll help with any heavy stuff around the house and yard. He's fabulous with plants, and had a sideline commercial greenhouse in Denver for a while. So we have a lot of plant stuff to talk about here - he's doing the plant aspect of their new house, and when you move to the tropics, you have to relearn EVERYTHING you ever thought you knew.

Anyway - I asked him to come over for a few minutes if he could. He did. He helped me rearrange some of the things I had blocking my scooter pathways in the house. He helped me walk my property, so I could check all my babies and see if they were all okay. When the doc called back on Friday I just stopped, dropped everything right in the middle of my cleanup. I know that if worse comes to worst and I have to get admitted, seeing that my little nursery is okay as is will help me stay much calmer about it all.

That's not a small thing. Keeping one's peace of mind intact in situations like this has a measurable impact on healing.

So what my neighbor did for me today was, in context, an important and significant thing. I'm way too shaky to have walked around the house even once all by myself. I am tough and stubborn to a fault, yet I would not have risked it alone.

When we got back inside, he plugged in the scooter for me - it had crapped out on the front porch, and he'd pushed it into the living room - and I sat in my office chair shaking like a leaf.

Body temp back up to 98.2.

So now, I'll rest.

Now I can rest easy.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Caution: Poor Mr. Foot Can Harsh Your Mellow

...Your feet's too big!
Don't want ya 'cause your feet's too big!
Can't use ya 'cause your feet's too big!
I really hate ya 'cause your feet's too big! Yeah!

...Oh, your pedal extremities are colossal!
To me you look just like a fossil!
You got me walkin', talkin' and squawkin',
'Cause your feet's too big, yeah!

--from: Your Feet's Too Big (Benson, Fisher) http://www.heptune.com/yourfeet.html
Transcribed from Fats Waller and His Rhythm, vocals by Fats Waller; recorded 11/3/39 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The places with bandaids and white stuff are little surface MRSA infections. The white stuff is Silvadene, which has worked very well for me for a long time in killing the surface MRSA's - the kind I usually call *mini-MRSA's.*

What's happening here is different. This infection is inside the leg, in the tissues. It's the same way I almost lost the same foot in 2004. I've never put up a picture of Poor Mr. Foot before, because I wanted to start at the beginning, so to speak. Now, who cares. It's time. Posted by Picasa

The scars on the left foot are from the surgery that saved him before. The old infection went in through the middle toe and into the tendon sheath. It ate all the skin off that toe, and part of the foot, so it looks like a burn scar, shiny and gray. The middle toe is always a little purple, sometimes more, sometimes less, from the scar tissue.

The incision scar is where the great Dr. M, orthopedic foot surgeon, drained the abscess. It was about the size of a large orange or small grapefruit by then.

The swollen pink areas are where the infection was when I took these pix yesterday.

The last photo shows some of the effects of the internal scarring. The middle toe's tendon is shortened and I can't bend it right. That's true, to a lesser extent, of all the upper foot.

Usually, from the outside, he looks remarkably good.

The larger red areas are pretty much throughout the foot. That's the cellulitis infection.

The little spots of red etc. are just mini-MRSA's, or the blister disease places, old scars, whatever. The pinkie toe is all purple because he was one big blister a few months ago, so now he's still scarred.

The huge swelling in the foot and ankle is partly from edema - it's hard to tell how much is due to the infection. Some, for sure, because the whole lower leg is bigger than the right one.

In any right-handed person, the right leg is usually slightly larger. For me that goes double because I limp, and the muscles in my left leg are now less developed than in the right leg.

You can see in the second photo how the redness is going up the back of the leg, but not as much on the side. Today, it's red everywhere.

Not a great comparison pic, but I think you can still tell how much bigger the left leg is than the right. Posted by Picasa

The purple bruising is always there. Some is called *staining,* some are just old bruises that never healed well. I know of a few that are a year old. They tell me that comes from the Prednisone and from the auto-immune disorders.

I keep forgetting to show my Pops my birthmark. The digital photo isn't so clear, but that mark is a perfect fish, with little fins and everything. Occasionally, I've gotten interesting reactions from certain Christians when they see that.

Poor Mr. Foot Gets It Again

Poor Mr. Foot.

Poor, dear Mr. Foot.

Somehow, someway, he became inspired to reprise his role of 2004, when we almost lost him for good.

This time, though - this time, it will be different. Better. Better.

The diagnosis, as of Friday afternoon, is cellulitis. Yes, that awful infection of the deeper tissues that goes with things like blood poisoning and gangrene. Maybe MRSA - well, highly likely, all things considered - but the important point is, it's cellulitis for sure.

There's no abscess. Instead, worse in some ways, my entire left leg is infected from the knee to the tips of my toes.

According to my great and treasured Infectious Disease doctor, Dr. C., we caught it in the very early stages this time. Unless things change for the worse, she'll keep me out of the Awful Place, and at home. I do not not not want to go live in the hospital again.

I do not not not want to lose my leg.

I must be vigilant, and I mean vigilant, to keep things from changing for the worse.

So far, I'm on oral Minocycline again. No IV yet, no further stuff like Rifampin. She kindly wrote me an Oxycodone rx for extra pain support on top of the morphine patches, anti-inflammatories, etc. I am humbly grateful for this. The pain isn't even approaching what it did in 2004 yet, and it's bad. Tender. Touch it and I want to jump through the ceiling.

I'd been busting my butt out in the yard, wanting to make it nice for Halloween, and for the one-year anniversary of Wilma. I don't want this to be a not-completely-repaired hurricane house any more, I'm suddenly just so tired of it I can't find the words to express it. My patience with living with the remaining hurricane mess came to a screeching halt on the day the weatherman said, One year ago today, Wilma started forming out in the eastern Atlantic...

Add on this: I love Halloween. We didn't have one last year. Wilma hit us on 10/24, and everything was destroyed, roads not cleared, no power, still no water in many places. You have no idea until you live through it, truly. Last year the cops etc. asked us not to do Halloween, it was just too dangerous with all the broken glass and huge downed trees and other debris out there and no functioning traffic lights or street lights, so please don't do Halloween, not even in the daylight, it's not safe...

My whole block seems to have the same feeling about Halloween this year. We really want it, we want to do it up right.

Between general cleanup and doing Halloween-type things, I overdid it.

I was being so good about working on alternate days: one day physical labor, next day rest and stay inside...then I blew it. I worked very, very hard 3 days in a row - most of a week, actually. I acquired a bunch of beautiful used brick from an estate down the street - stuff like that. I'm good at handling that sort of thing but hell, I'm sick. The pollen is still so fierce out there, and I was covered in little *mini-MRSA's,* the surface infections, and wearing myself out working, too. Not to mention, being on immunosuppressants for so long, then recently quitting daily Minocycline antibiotics after 8 months...

aw hell. Shit happens. I need to stop blaming myself and doing the woulda shoulda coulda's here. What matters is what happens from here on out.

I felt something wrong on Thursday. I was stiff everywhere all day, and everything chronic on me was firing up. Itching everywhere, scratching my skin off, coughing and wheezing, all allergic and asthmatic.

I was finishing oral antifungals because I had thrush, a painful yeast infection in my throat. (Sounds dirty, huh?! How the heck does a person get a yeast infection in their throat?!)

The overall inflammation was ramped up - the rheumatoid arthritis condition that eats up all my connective tissues, including in my eyes and gums and ribs. It was all on fire. Then it hit a lot of new joints, too - my right hand especially.

The disseminated HSV-1 - the cold sores run amok - was making a big rash of blood blisters in my mouth and on my tongue, and the skin was coming unglued on my toes again.

I mean, everything was taking over at once. Something bad was going on.

So Thursday, I tried to make myself take it easy. And I was in enough pain, and stiff enough, that making myself STOP wasn't that hard to do. It was different than the usual RA morning stiffness - I was physically unable to close my right hand, for instance. I had to push it with my left hand and even then it wouldn't close all the way.

Thursday night, my left ankle hurt. I had one of those really bad high sprains in it in 2002. They often don't heal well; certainly mine never did, but the pain usually isn't very bad any more. On Thursday night, it hurt like hell for no reason I could see. Weird. A faded memory come back to life.

Then on Friday morning I woke up around 5am. That left ankle was warm and red. Shit. Not just the ankle any more either. The foot. The leg. I looked all around, I saw it, oh, no, oh, no no no, please no. I left a message at Dr. C's at 7am and then I worked outside - gently! - the only thing I could think of to calm myself down as I waited for a return phone call.

Finally, around lunchtime, I scrubbed and went in to the doc's. By then, the redness had crawled up my leg almost to the knee. A few hours later, it was above the knee. But by then I was finished with a doppler venous ultrasound to make sure neither leg had blood clots, and on my way to Sam's to pick up my antibiotics and a mess of other meds too. I stopped by Penn Dutch for fresh produce, and Walgreen's for the pain pills, and hit Lotus Chinese Kitchen so I wouldn't try to stand up and cook; and then I was ready, I got inside and battened down the hatch.

Here are Dr. C's instructions:

Keep it elevated, all the time for at least the weekend, most of the time after that. If anything, anything, changes, call the service and have them page me right away. Immediately. If you ever spike a fever, for example. If the redness flashes up your leg, if it gets very hot. If you feel very sick.

Yeah. I know the drill.

Mr. Foot is almost always elevated anyway. I sleep with 5-6 pillows under my feet. In front of my computer is a high stool with 2 pillows on it. In my car is a foot pillow for the dashboard. When I scooter around in stores, he's propped up on my purse in the scooter baskets.

At first glance, he looks fine. Well, usually. Relatively. But you see, he's all scarred inside from the terrible MRSA infection in 2004. Not just skin and muscle, but the tendons, nerves, bone, everything is full of inelastic scar tissue. The blood vessels and lymph vessels don't have the elasticity to pump blood and lymph back up. When the foot's elevated higher than my heart, gravity cleans out the fluids that build up when he's on the ground. I use gravity to do the job he can't do for himself any more.

It's a simple equation: The more I keep him elevated, the longer he'll stay alive. The goal is for *k* to die before the foot dies.

So the elevation thing, I got that down.

I never get fevers even when I should: the Prednisone and anti-inflammatories, and maybe also the HSV, keep my body temp around 96-97 degrees. If I ever make a fever - even if I just hit *normal* and go up to 98.6 - it's really serious. I was at 97.8 at the doc's. She noticed that. It may be my record high body temp at her office.

I'm looking at these photos from yesterday, taken while waitng for my ultrasound. The pictures are simultaneously gross, yet don't look like much is happening.

I'm showing these pix partly because what's happening to me is getting more and more common. And these infections DON'T look like we may think they should: they often are NOT all streaked and black or green or full of obvious pus. In fact, I'm beginning to think they usually don't look like much of anything at all.

If you have a tender warm reddish place on your body, SEE A DOCTOR. Don't let anyone tell you it's *nothing.* Maybe not even a doctor, okay? - if you think it's something bad and they're doing the old *it's just anxiety, here's a pat on the head and a Xanax* bullshit, SEE ANOTHER DOCTOR.

Because once it starts, you may not have much time. Don't lose body parts over stiff-upper-lip pride, or shyness, or embarrassment. It's so not worth it.

Roll Out the Barrel...

Talk about a walk down memory lane.

In Chicagoland, back in my salad days - say late 70's - you couldn't have a wedding without at least one polka dance. Italian, Anglo, whatever, it didn't matter what *kind* of wedding it was. No wedding band got work unless they had a good BIG repertoire of Polish polka numbers. Rumor had it there were more Poles in Chicago than in Warsaw, so this made sense. See, even if it weren't a Polish wedding, surely some of the guests were. Besides, it had become a sort of local tradition.

I don't know any proper dances, myself, polka included. All I remember of polka-ing was sort of skipping around with your partner, quite vigorously, knees kicking high, and bending your clasped hands down almost to the floor from time to time. That usually did the trick, if you Didn't Know How.

It was very...enthusiastic sort of dancing, very high-energy. There's something inherently silly about the music, too, in a sweet way - even to the jaded post-adolescents we were at the time. We could laugh at it all we wanted, but still, it was hard to get sneeringly mean. Perhaps it was all that jumping around and getting sweaty with your partner that kept us willing to head on out to the dance floor for the polka number at any wedding.

So I sort of grew up thinking that including a polka or two was how all wedding receptions were Done.

Blogmama Little Miss Attila and the Attila Hub - the Hub is my friend of many years' standing, from working together in Chicagoland - got married out in California. The Hub, now, he's Irish to a *t,* and I think of LMA as more or less English American.

I couldn't go to the wedding, being a recluse and all. Afterwards, talking to the Hub about the event, I asked if they had a nice polka. Just sort of an offhand comment, really, expecting no answer other than *yes.* Imagine my surprise when he said *no*!!! - No, but they did have an Irish chain dance though. ?!?

But -- but -- but -- !!!

I mean, okay, that's good, but what does an Irish dance have to do with anything? That wasn't the question. I'm trying to make sure they had a proper wedding and everything went as it should.

When I hung up the phone I was still in a state of shock. Where I remain to this day.

So you see, I can relate to Desert Cat's feelings about this polka thing.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shades of Steve Irwin, huh? Just imagine. There you are, tootling down the Intracoastal Waterway in your boat, minding your own business...

The barb that pierced his lung and heart - at least, the part the ray left behind - was around 2" long. According to other sources, it was a spotted eagle ray, around 5'.

Oct 19, 8:59 AM EDT

Lighthouse Point man stabbed in chest by stingray

LIGHTHOUSE POINT, Fla. (AP) -- An 81-year-old boater was in critical condition Thursday
after a stingray flopped onto his boat and stabbed him, leaving a foot-long barb in his chest, authorities said.

"It was a freak accident," said Lighthouse Point acting fire Chief David Donzella. "It's very odd that the thing jumped out of the water and stung him. We still can't believe it."

Fatal stingray attacks like the one that killed "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin last month are rare, marine experts say. Rays reflexively deploy a sharp spine in their tails when frightened, but the venom coating the barb usually causes just a painful sting for humans.

James Bertakis of Lighthouse Point was on the water with his granddaughter and a friend Wednesday when the stingray flopped onto the boat and stung Bertakis. The women steered the boat to shore and called 911.

Surgeons were able to remove some of the barb, and Bertakis, who also suffered a collapsed lung, underwent surgery late Wednesday and early Thursday, the Miami Herald reported on its web site.

Ellen Pikitch, a professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami, who has been studying stingrays for decades, said they are generally docile.

"Something like this is really, really extraordinarily rare," she said. "Even when they are under duress, they don't usually attack."

©2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.
Find this article at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FL_STINGRAY_STABBING_FLOL-?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cat Starts House Fire, Dog Saves Owner

Cat Starts House Fire, Dog Saves Owner

By Associated Press

4 hours ago

RHINE, Wis. - After a disabled woman's cat started a house fire, her specially trained dog rescued her by bringing a phone to call for help. Jamie Hanson, 49, received third-degree burns on her arm in the fire that killed both of her pets, Sheboygan County Sheriff's officials said Monday.

The fire started Sunday night when Hanson's cat knocked a candle onto a chair. Hanson's dog then brought her a phone, allowing her to call for help.

Hanson, who lost a leg in a car accident, told the dispatcher she was disabled but would try to leave the house, Lt. Chad Broeren said. Firefighters found her standing in the doorway as flames engulfed the home, he said.

She was taken to Sheboygan Memorial Hospital. Her injuries are not life threatening, Broeren said.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Idaho Baby Sitter Kills Black Bear

Here's one for Livey.

Idaho Baby Sitter Kills Black Bear

By Associated Press

PORTHILL, Idaho - A northern Idaho baby sitter shot and killed a 422-pound black bear that broke into a backyard where three toddlers were playing.

The bear was likely drawn to the yard by the scent of food from a barbecue, said Idaho Department of Fish and Game Conservation Officer Greg Johnson.

"We've not had a single incident in Idaho of a black bear attacking a person," he told the Bonner County Daily Bee newspaper. "If you have a bear, you probably have food out."

The baby sitter did not want her name revealed and could not be reached for comment. She was baby-sitting for her sister, Becky Henslee.

Henslee said her 3-year-old daughter Brooklyn and twin 2-year-old sons Cleo and Charles were playing in the backyard of their home on the Canadian border early last week when Brooklyn alerted their aunt by shouting "Bear! Bear!"

Henslee said her sister looked up and saw the bear running out of the woods toward the backyard. She grabbed the three children from the yard and ran inside the house, shutting the door.

After taking the children into a bedroom, the woman loaded a 7mm hunting rifle and returned to the back door, where the bear had pawed the screen door and broken the door frame.

When the bear looked away from the door, Henslee said her sister opened the door slightly and shot twice, killing the bear instantly.

Henslee said her sister had a valid Idaho bear hunting tag.

Wild berries, the main food source of bears in the region, have been less abundant this season than past, prompting the animals to look for other food sources in residential areas, Johnson said.

In April, a 6-year-old Ohio girl was killed and her mother and younger half brother seriously injured when a black bear attacked the family at a swimming hole in the Cherokee National Forest in southeast Tennessee.
Information from: Bonner Daily Bee, http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Quest

So what's the *quest* in *ksquest* about, anyway?

I'm a quester, on a quest.

Hmmm. Perhaps that much was self-evident.

I seek the truth. I want to understand the meaning of things, what the world is made up of and why people do the things they do. I like genuine beauty and skill and kindness and love, and I seek these out to look upon them.

I love reality.

I'm not surprised by much, or shocked or puzzled. As ridiculously conceited as that may sound, still, it's the truth.

Having been raised by one scientist parent, with the other parent so logical and intelligent and educated that they might as well have been a scientist too, I tend to analyze everything around me.

I like logic. I also like emotion. I'm a very emotional person, and I see nothing wrong with that. Emotion doesn't need to cloud logic. If we remember to think with our brains and feel with our hearts - each, of course, informing the other to some extent - I don't believe bias is inescapable. Relatively speaking, of course.

If we take care to try to be as objective as possible, it's a goal that we can very nearly meet.

Is perfect objectivity possible? Probably not. Picture this mathematical equation called an asymptote, with an x/y grid, and in one quadrant, a curved line. I think of objectivity as something we approach asymptotically - traveling along the curve, we can be far away from that line of axis, or we can approach it more and more closely. An asymptote never actually touches the line. But at some point, it gets so very close, it almost does. I think of objectivity like that. I may never be completely objective, but I'll sure try to get as close to that line as I can: to approach it asymptotically.

The way scientific analysis works is pretty simple. You have a question, or a theory, you want to answer. You propose possible answers, gather good unbiased data, and see if your theory can be proven.

How do you know if it's proven?

Sometimes you don't.

One good way to tell, though, is if your answer holds true over time. If you can accurately predict the recurrence of that outcome, chances are real good that your answer is correct.

Of course, it's usually not as simple as that. Since I'm no scientist myself, I sort of mushed all that up into a lame layman's explanation, probably riddled with inaccurracies; besides, there are so many influences on anything and everything that a perfectly good conclusion for some circumstances may not hold true in others. Which would mean, time to narrow that hypothesis and start again.

Still and all, I like to predict outcomes. Then over time I can see how close I was. I do this with how I tend my plants, with politics, with all sorts of human behavior. While I may never discuss politics much on this blog - with the probable exception of a future post addressing why - that doesn't mean I don't think about politics.

I made a series of predictions after the first G. W. Bush election, including ones after 9/11 pertaining to the wars. Most of them have come to pass - in other words, enough information has come to light to answer whether or not that prediction came true. So far, every single one was correct. It's more than just a game: it helps me understand how I want to vote in the future.

This particular example took place largely back in my *closet-blogging* days, when I conducted communications through email. Even with such a limited readership as that, I quickly discovered that my belief in the value of dispassionate, objective discussion wasn't held by everyone. I was the surprised recipient of some vitriolic reactions, assumptions that I hold beliefs I never stated, topic drift into unrelated issues, name-calling, the whole nine yards.

Kind of like much of the internet, all around.

I would not engage. Even though the fruitless type of reactions were performed by a small minority, I discontinued stating those opinions and predictions, or seeking rational discussion, in that forum. What for? In reward for my efforts I was being both insulted and bored; worse yet, since I got little logical discourse back from the very ones I most disagreed with and wanted logic from, I wasn't learning anything. I don't mind spending my time, not one bit. I do mind wasting it.

Lest I get too full of my own ability to predict, I'm telling on myself, there. I got the big picture right. I got the reactions from certain others quite wrong; they surprised me.

Human behavior really can be accurately predicted some of the time. I know for sure that it won't be predicted if we don't try. And me, I believe we should.

I genuinely love reality. Many people don't. I'm thinking in particular just now of a person I recently stopped associating with, who disliked reality so much that he'd turn on me for making rather simple and innocuous statements about it. I understand the origins of most of his problems, and I sympathize. Among other things, his father abandoned his family when he was a little boy, in a nasty mean nonsupporting way, and he's never been able to accept that the dad won't come back and properly nurture him. He's self-destructive, self-deceptive, and deliberately helpless - *rescue me! nurture me!* - and although he's made significant and encouraging strides in the last year, I don't know if he'll ever really heal.

See, that would require admitting the truth, that he needs to parent his own self now, he can't turn the old past into a happy ending. He fearfully allows just enough of this truth into his brain to tell me things like, How can you stand reality? How can you see those awful things so clearly, and then just go about your business the way you do? I can't stand it. It's too depressing.

Well, I find his denial and refusal to take personal responsibility depressing. He's 58 years old. There is so much of real value in this person. He has goodness in him, and so many fine talents and accomplishments, yet his life is a terrible mess in ways big and small. He won't even drive, so he walks his groceries home in the Florida heat. So damaged, he is.

Even knowing - predicting - the probable outcome, I decided to try to help him heal. Not to heal him, note. We none of us can really heal another person, in that sense at least; only they can do that. But perhaps I could help him heal himself. And lest you think for one minute I did this out of some pure-hearted goodness? - I was looking at a prime opportunity to practice my skills of non-confrontational negotiation, of successfully dealing with a controlling personality...and to spend time with someone who could be a lot of fun to shop and ride around with, to eat good food and swap stories together.

I would talk about self-destructive things I did in my life that I changed, and why. I would point out something done by some mutual acquaintance, and how if they did x instead of y, their outcome might have been better. Naturally, my examples were highly similar to things he was doing. This way, though, he rarely felt I was attacking him, so he almost never got defensive.

He was interested and thoughtful and wanted to learn. The mere concept that we have a right to be happy on this earth floored him. Yes, that one thing alone. It never occurred to him that one can be happy fairly, without expense to others.

Was I trying to reform him? Yes and no. Not in the sense most people mean. To suggest indirect advice, by example and parable, yes. Never by saying, --You should do *this*-- but by laying an alternative down in front of him to look at, in case he might like to pick it up and try it on.

In my world, with a few obvious exceptions like boss-employee or parent-child, it's a boundary violation to tell others what to do. To assume they need reforming, and to assume we know how, is not right. One exception with my recent friend was that when he acted inappropriately toward me, I would put my foot down. Want to step over that line? Uh-uh. My foot lands smack on top of yours.

For example: Say a person reaches into my wallet and grabs my cash. I'll do what I can to stop them. That's my money; they can't have it; I'll keep their paws off it, or grab it back. That is NOT a boundary violation on my part - but it sure is on theirs. We have a right to defend ourselves against harm; in that sense, saying, --Give me my money back!-- is an instance of when it's appropriate to tell someone else what to do.

What I won't do is sit down and explain how stealing is wrong, and they shouldn't do it, it's a sin and God doesn't like it, plus it's just plain Not Very Nice. Also, that your victim may pull out a gun and shoot you.

That would be an attempt to reform the person. Not my job.

The cash-grabbing bit was something my friend never ever did. He has some strong and appropriate moral codes, good foundations. For a while, we enjoyed developing a fun and satisfying friendship, and were considering a possible (tiny and extremely low-risk!) business partnership. This meant me bringing him in on something I'd already set up, and on terms that were quite generous to him. For me, having some simple help and some company as my physical disabilities increase was of real value. We tried it out casually, with no formal business commitment, to see how it would go.

Then - as expected - he eventually violated my trust. He became furious that I hadn't done two tasks for my little business that he had absolutely no right to *order* me to do. I'd already made it clear that I wouldn't do either task, one of which I physically couldn't do even if I'd wanted to. My last quiet words to him were this: --You have a choice. Leave yourself, or your temper, at home.-- He turned and walked away, abandoning me to do a heavy day's work alone and sick.

A true friend should not do that.

Little harm done, but I lost interest in continuing the friendship. After several months of not really speaking to him beyond light pleasantries as we inadvertently crossed paths - and still seeing fury in his face for me calling him out on his nasty unprovoked temper tantrum! - he finally calmed down.

And I gave it a second chance. You see, the great growth he displayed after those months he spent alone and thinking was wonderful to see, and encouraging, hopeful. Yet - true to form - after several months more, he tossed that second chance away too; and in much the same manner, saying I'd promised to do something he wanted, something I'd carefully emphasized I wouldn't do.

A pattern, there. Disliking that reality, he dismissed it and replaced it with what he preferred. Since that wasn't real, it didn't happen. And denying personal responsibility for the outcome of his own actions, he blamed me instead.

It's human nature, and therefore understandable and forgivable, to snap at the hand reaching out to help. HOWEVER: This does NOT mean I should allow my hand to get bit. I can understand and forgive perfectly well at the very same time I smack his teeth away. And there is absolutely nothing wrong, nothing *bitchy* or *ballbusting* - his actual words - about defending myself from that attack.

I knew this going in. None of what transpired was a surprise, and the hurt was limited because of the expectations I had. Certainly, it still hurt some. I value friendship, I'm sad at this loss, and at the manner of loss too.

But by understanding the whole scenario, and predicting the probable outcomes from the beginning, my losses were limited. I made sure, all along, that the *given vs. received* columns on the friendship balance sheet stayed equal enough so I could jump ship at any point in time and leave little behind. I gave heavily in areas that didn't cost much materially, but were rewarding both to him, and then to me for their own sakes - car rides, free business advice, plant cuttings, providing a listening ear. In attempting this friendship, I'd decided from jump street that the probable cost to me in emotional hurt, and maybe a tiny amount of material things, was worth it.

And it was.

But another very early decision was: no third chances. I see him now, once again turned on his back all clumsy like a June bug, waving his arms and legs in the air, *unable* to right himself - *helpless! helpless! someone MUST rescue me, I've proven over and over what a generous and perfect person I am!* - and of course, just like a June bug, every time I reached down and set him aright, he promptly flipped onto his back again, where he remains today.

I wasn't his Dad.

Now it's up to him. He's perfectly capable of getting back up and standing on his own two feet, and he knows it. We did make enough progress that he acknowledged that intellectually, at least. I have no interest in setting him on his feet again, myself. He knew I had a limit, and he went there deliberately. Like virtually everything else in his present life, his losses are the direct results of his own actions. That's what self-destructiveness is, after all.

My relationship issues with this person were all about boundaries. When he crossed mine - he does this quite badly with everyone - I said, --No. Go back. Not allowed.-- When he responded, --Not fair! I earned the rights because I did xyz for you!-- I said, --You didn't earn any such rights.

First, no one ever *earns* them. *Rights* in friendship are contracts of a sort, and contracts aren't unilateral. I never agreed to let you cross that line. You can't decide it's okay on your own just because you decided you *deserve* it.

Second, the so-called *favors* you did me were ones I didn't ask for and didn't want. They were NOT genuine gifts; they were entirely self-serving, full of hidden strings attached. Under great pressure from you to take them, I rejected all I could; I accepted a few to make you shut up, then promptly more than repaid them.

But to your way of thinking, it wasn't possible to fully repay them; you believed that having been *thoughtful* in the first place created some kind of continuing obligation on my part. Wrong. No matter how much you desired it, you never tricked me into being in your debt. No meeting of the minds, no contract. Control-freak tactics coming from passive or *good* behavior are still controlling tactics, just as much as your old temper tantrum was, and those tactics don't work on me.

The saddest part, the irony, is this: People try to control others out of fear. Fear of loss of the friendship, in this case here. Yet he lost my friendship only because he tried to control me.

So why am I musing over this just now?

Partly because it's a recent event. But far more, because of some similarities to questions raised in a recent internet incident.

You see, judging a person is not at all the same as judging their actions. The judging of souls is certainly not in my mortal domain. Judging the criminal or civil legality of a person's actions might be, when done in a court of law, but I'm not sitting on a jury.

Judging the ethical right or wrong of certain actions they perform, now, that's a different story. I believe that's not only a right, but a responsibility, for us all.

If I don't consider and analyze whether a given action was *right* or *wrong,* how on earth can I continue learning right from wrong? I'm very far from knowing everything there is to know about that. I follow guidelines like the Golden Rule, but frankly, life and people are far too complicated for such simplistic rules to always meet the need.

If I say, --Mr. X did wrong-- or, --Ms. Y should have done this but didn't-- I'm not running around judging the worth of their characters. I want to know what the right thing to do would have been, so I won't be caught off guard if it's my turn to make a similar decision. Too often, we face situations requiring fast thinking or fast action, but we don't have much decision-making information to go on, because we didn't think about such things beforehand.

All too often, the reason we didn't is because we didn't want to feel like we're Judging Others.

Apples and oranges.

The other reason is this: I believe we have both a right and a responsibility to protect ourselves from harm. *Self-interest* is NOT the same as *selfishness.* Selfish refers to things like greed at the expense of others - more boundary violations. Fair and just self-interest is ethically right - and even ethically necessary. That's easy to see if you're raising children. They need their parents to be as healthy and whole as can be, in every way.

Even if you're truly alone in this world - even if no one loves or needs you - that still holds. We are all creatures of whatever deity, or life-force, or such, inspired life to begin with. To allow ourselves to be unnecessarily harmed is to disrespect and dishonor that gift of life.

It seems to show other people that it's okay to cause - or accept - harm if the victim appears not to care. This is a bad example to set. Most of us would not want someone we love to have harm inflicted upon them; why should we allow it upon ourselves? Aren't we just as much a part of that life-creation as everyone else?

I firmly believe it's incumbent on us all to understand human nature as it truly is. Reality. See things as they are, not as we wish they would be. Not as some stereotype of *bad,* either. Reality. If we can predict what a person will probably do, including what harm they may cause to us or to others, we can arm ourselves accordingly. We can take caution. We can watch out.

That is NOT *judging others.* I'm making no comment on the value of that person, or on the ultimate destiny of their soul. I'm only making sure I understand the reality of them, as best I can, and for good and valid reason.

You see, in k's world at least, the truth is not the place to end, but the place to start. Facts, information, reality: For me to make a decision on what action to take, or what is the moral or ethical right and wrong of any given situation, I need first and foremost to know the objective truth. At least, as much of it as any of us can.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Me? I'm k.

My name is k.

My blog's name is ksquest. As in, *k's quest.*

I was getting notes that people weren't sure what to call me - k, or ks, or ksquest, whatever. I finally fixed that on the blog, there. (I THINK so, anyway!)

Just thought I'd straighten all that out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

For Lexophiles (Lovers of Words)

Shamelessly swiped from kmom. I could credit the original source of this email, but I don't know them, and I'm not sure they'd want me to.

1. A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.
2. A will is a dead giveaway.
3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
4. A backward poet writes inverse.
5. In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.
6. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.
7. If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.
9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.
10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
11. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.
12. A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.
13. You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it
14. Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under.
15. He broke into song because he couldn't find the key
16. A calendar's days are numbered.
17. A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine.
18. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
19. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
20. A plateau is a high form of flattery.
21.The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.
22. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
23. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.
24. If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
25. When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.
26. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
27. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
28. Acupuncture: a jab well done.
29. Marathon runners with bad shoes suffer the agony of de feet.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Neighbor Catches Baby Who Fell 3 Floors

With the advent of so many new grandbabies, it's nice to know there are neighbors like this around.

Oct 1, 9:45 PM EDT
Neighbor Catches Baby Who Fell 3 Floors

DENVER (AP) -- A baby girl dangling by one hand from a third-floor balcony was spared death when she fell into the arms of a neighbor who waited underneath, police said Sunday.

The 9-month-old's mother had left her with her 10- and 13-year-old brothers Saturday while she went to work, police said. The boys left the apartment, and the girl crawled through a door they had left open.

The girl was hanging over a concrete sidewalk 18 1/2 feet above the ground when neighbor Mary Bussey and her son, Brandon Bussey, noticed her, police said.

Mary Bussey waited under the child while her son ran upstairs, and the girl fell into her arms.
Officials said the baby was healthy and safe. She has been placed in the custody of the Denver Department of Social Services.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone would be charged.

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